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date: 20 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

William Godwin’s interest in the theatre has been documented. However, the recent publication of his diary and correspondence allows us a richer sense of the importance of theatre to him. While his own playwriting activities have received some attention, we can get a fuller understanding of how his theatre attendance and dramatic reading, after he stopped writing plays in 1807, sustained the moral duty he felt as a public intellectual to ameliorate society through the promotion of political justice. Godwin was a committed attendee of the patent theatres, Drury Lane and Covent Garden, and an assiduous reader of what we would today describe as canonical drama. Through a series of well intentioned epistolary interventions directed at the leading actors of the day, but with a particular interest in Edmund Kean, Godwin reveals himself as a guardian of British dramatic culture.

Keywords: Godwin, theatre, Kean, political justice, patent theatres

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